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Ritchie Bros. Acquires Petrowsky Auctioneers, Retains Brand

One of the aspects of Petrowsky Auctioneers that is attractive to Ritchie Bros. is its ability to conduct cost-efficient auctions at contractor’s facilities.

Wed August 24, 2016 - Northeast Edition #17
Construction Equipment Guide

Ravi Saligram (L) and Terry Dolan, both of Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers.
Ravi Saligram (L) and Terry Dolan, both of Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers.

Ritchie Bros., a global leader in asset management and disposition and the world's largest industrial auctioneer, recently acquired Petrowsky Auctioneers, significantly enhancing its market presence in the New England region.

“Petrowsky's strong focus on customer relationships, trusted auction brand and well-established market presence in New England will strengthen Ritchie Bros. offering in this important region,” said Ravi Saligram, CEO of Ritchie Bros. “Sammy Piotrkowski [Petrowsky] has built a tremendous auction platform over nearly 40 years by developing and maintaining a tremendous customer focus. Petrowsky Auctioneers is a highly complementary business that will broaden our base of equipment sellers. We look forward to welcoming the Petrowsky team to Ritchie Bros. and continuing their history of great customer service and seller solutions.”

At this time, Ritchie Bros. doesn't foresee any changes to the experience attendees receive from Petrowsky Auctioneers, according to Terry Dolan, Ritchie Bros.' president for the United States and Latin America.

Catering largely to equipment sellers in the construction and transportation industries, Petrowsky's auction sales are well aligned with Ritchie Bros.' sector focus, despite their differences, Dolan said.

“While the size and scope of Petrowsky Auctioneers and Ritchie Bros. is clearly different — with Petrowsky selling approximately $50 million of equipment in 2015 and Ritchie Bros. selling $4.25 billion — the actual auction experience is similar in many ways,” said Dolan. “Petrowsky auctions are held either on site at its North Franklin [Conn.] permanent site or off site on the land of the consignor; they drive equipment over a ramp at their auction site, and their auctions are conducted live and simulcast online. Other than the fact Petrowsky team members wear yellow, rather than orange, the overall customer experience is very similar to what our customers would expect at a Ritchie Bros. auction.”

One of the aspects of Petrowsky Auctioneers that is attractive to Ritchie Bros. is its ability to conduct cost-efficient auctions at contractor's facilities, “especially one-owner complete dispersals, the coveted fruit of the auction business at all levels, featuring assets that perform better in their natural environment,” said Sammy Piotrkowski. “Being a Ritchie Bros. company only expands our ability to offer more for those that wish to proudly tout their assets in a homegrown atmosphere.”

The company currently is evaluating how it will be able to leverage additional features and services offered at Ritchie Bros. to Petrowsky auctions going forward. Ritchie Bros. Financial Services will be available immediately for buyers at Petrowsky auctions.

What Does This Acquisition Mean for Buyers and Sellers?

The planned short-term changes are technological in nature, with one being the integration of Ritchie Bros.' pool of online buyers, potential virtual ramp selling of static lots and “app” capabilities, according to Piotrkowski.

Petrowsky Auctioneers will continue to offer its consignors the option of setting a transparent reserve price on equipment if they choose.

“Transparent reserve means that owners will not be permitted to bid on their own equipment — items must achieve the reserve price without the owner raising the bid. This is one of the reasons why we are choosing to keep the Petrowsky brand separate from Ritchie Bros. These transparent reserve auctions will be offered exclusively through Petrowsky. Ritchie Bros. live auctions will remain completely unreserved,” Dolan said.

“However, it's important to understand that while Petrowsky does offer its customers the option of setting a reserve, only a small percentage of all the lots sold in their auctions contain a reserve. All other assets are sold unreserved,” he added.

The Petrowsky and Ritchie Bros. sales teams will continue to operate alongside each other, offering slightly different auction experiences and sale propositions. In circumstances where an equipment package is best split among different auction channels (Petrowsky, Ritchie Bros. live auctions, EquipmentOne, etc.) the Petrowsky and Ritchie Bros. sales teams will work together to achieve the best outcome for the seller, according to Dolan.

“Going forward, Petrowsky sellers will receive some immediate benefits. Petrowsky auctions will reach more buyers than ever before by being listed on and available for online bidding at and receiving cross promotion in various Ritchie Bros. marketing vehicles,” Dolan said.

The availability of Ritchie Bros. financing, transportation quotes, and purchase of extended warranties on certain assets, are all resources available to customers.

“Even the most ardent Petrowsky product denizens have to see this merger with Ritchie Bros. as a great way to garner exposure and marketing resources that have been tested by the worldwide leader in the industrial auction industry,” Piotrkowski said.

Retaining the Brand

The Petrowsky brand will be maintained as a brand extension within the Ritchie Bros. family of brands, given its strong and loyal customer base and its offering of reserve auction options, according to Dolan. Transparent reserve auction options will only be provided under the Petrowsky brand — maintaining the brand foundation of unreserved auctions held by Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers.

“All Petrowsky staff have been retained, Sammy will continue to lead the business, and their site in North Franklin, Conn., will remain the main office and permanent auction site for Petrowsky-branded auctions.”

“This decision to join the Ritchie family is not about retirement, but rather being able to invest and modernize our brand, subsequently aiding its longevity,” said Sammy Piotrkowski. “[Danny Anderson and I] both enjoy what we do and are proud of what we have done. As a Ritchie Bros. company, Petrowsky Auctioneers will be able to not only keep our customers in stride with the fast-paced, technologically-charged business climate, but also allows us to continue in cultivating personal relationships with our patrons new and old, as well as the 'class act' people at Ritchie Bros. so we can all benefit and prosper for years to come.”

For coverage of Petrowsky Auctioneers' first public auction under the ownership of Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, click here.

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